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graduation
(MorgueFile.com)
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NAIROBI, Kenya — Hello, you look so beautiful with that square graduation cap on your head and that open gown over that blue dress. Jut your hip, go on and angle a leg on those sleek spikes. A crowd of photographers will jostle to get to you. Flashes will kiss you as they squeeze their shutter releases, because you deserve it. You’ve graduated. You’ll get all the magazine covers. A lucrative job awaits!

Hello, who’s your designer? I should get a suit like that. Boy, and that timepiece fits so well. Since you were a kid they told you the only way to be worthy — the only way to capture their respect — comes through a university degree. Just like the neighbor’s kid, who bought his dad a new car and paid for his siblings’ school fees after graduating at the top of his engineering class. Why are you doleful now? C’mon, be happy. You made it. Throw that graduation cap up and scream, it’s your heyday. It will go up with all your frustrations and come down bearing a prestigious job. Your first paycheck. This is the day you begin to live. Snap open that beer can, let’s drink to that!

The bolt from the blue, however, is that kid gloves ran out of stock. The world is waiting for you bare knuckled.

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School isn’t exactly propelling us to excellence, despite the hype. It’s barely helping us scrape out a living, but there is a difference between making a living and really living. I lived as a writer disguised as a business student, thanks to school. I thought myself a failure when numbers in class gave me a fuddled mind, thanks to school. But I desired to be me, to really live.

Education is a lifetime process that doesn’t only happen in a classroom. The best learning is self-learning, away from the mostly inane stuff pumped into our smoking skulls in class. Intelligence does not exist because classrooms exist, but the other way around. Count it a blessing, because most institutions won’t tell you this. As long as you hold the purse strings, they will hype their institutions.

I‘m not against education. I’m against the system that shapes school. The system that wheedles kids into believing they amount to nothing without a top-tier education. The lie is that there’s a key to life and we only get it after a million exams. Successful people aren’t smart because school made them smart; they are smart because they found their innate abilities and built on them. A genius isn’t a unique kind of a person, but every person is a unique kind of genius.

If you are in school looking for life, wake up and realize the world isn’t waiting to roll out a red carpet for you. There is no life to look for, but ripped rags of an already existing life to begin fighting for.

Dear school, could we please unpack the pressure you exert? Could we recalibrate and make school a place to incubate what kids already have? The race to acquiring papers has bred engineers disguised as marketers, marketers disguised as nurses, teachers camouflaged into accountants, all because the society told us to get a course they considered prestigious, pursue it and graduate. Maybe it’s about time employers follow some apt words: Hire the heart, and then train the mind.

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